Mike's Blog

Notes to myself, shared with the world. A collection of projects, thoughts, and ideas — mostly about computers.

See all my blog posts, sorted by year, in my blog archive.

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How To Set Up a Ruby Dev Environment on Ubuntu Linux

How To Set Up a Ruby Dev Environment on Ubuntu Linux

Setting up a development environment correctly might not seem like a big deal at first, but an incorrectly set-up environment can cause a lot of problems down the road if you’re not careful. In my experience, the internet’s full of solutions – both good and bad – for environment problems, but often does a poor job of explaining why a solution’s good or bad. And installing Ruby can be tricky if you’ve never done it before. So here’s my advice.

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How to Install Custom Firmware on Your Xiaomi M365 E-Scooter

How to Install Custom Firmware on Your Xiaomi M365 E-Scooter

The Xiaomi m365 (also known as the Xiaomi Mi) is one of the most highly-rated electric scooters available. If you’ve ever rented a Lyft or a Bird scooter, the design will look very familiar. This electric scooter is fun to ride and great for commuting! But one of the best things about the m365 scooter is that you can modify the firmware to suit your own preferences! It’s easy to do and should only take 20 or 30 minutes. Let’s get started!

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Review: Orange Pi Zero

Review: Orange Pi Zero

Orange Pi is a relatively unknown competitor to Raspberry Pi. I recently learned about Orange Pi while doing some research about a Raspberry Pi project I wanted to start, and I actually ended up buying the Orange Pi Zero. Orange Pi is a Chinese company that is focused on producing small PC boards – similar to Raspberry Pi – as cheaply as possible. And Orange Pi produces a wider variety of boards than Raspberry Pi, so perhaps one of their boards will fit your project better than a Raspberry Pi would.

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A Bookmark to Temporarily Disable your Pi-hole

A Bookmark to Temporarily Disable your Pi-hole

I use a Pi-hole on my home network and I love it! It works by configuring your local network to use the Pi-hole as the DNS server, and the Pi-hole refuses to resolve domains of sites you want to block. It does a pretty good job of blocking everything from unwanted trackers to ads and malware. Sometimes, though, it’s annoying because it blocks a link that I actually want to visit. Maybe I’m trying to visit a sponsored Google link, an Amazon product link, or a link from an email. In any case, I just don’t want the link to be blocked, and the Pi-hole gets in the way. This can be inconvenient because the usual process to temporarily allow blocked traffic is to open the Pi-hole admin page in a new tab, login, and click the link to disable it in the menu. Too much work! So I came up with a slightly easier way. I use a bookmark in my bookmarks toolbar that will disable the Pi-hole for 30 seconds.

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Can You VNC to a Desktop on a Headless Raspberry Pi?

Can You VNC to a Desktop on a Headless Raspberry Pi?

No keyboard, mouse, or monitor required!

In my last blog post, I figured out how to enable SSH access to a Pi Zero W without attaching a mouse, keyboard, or monitor. This us useful because it means you don’t need a micro-HDMI or micro-USB OTG cable to attach a monitor, keyboard, or mouse. But can we take it a step further? I wanted to find out if I could get a GUI desktop environment running without attaching a monitor to the Pi. And I did it!

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Headless Setup for a Raspberry Pi Zero-W

Headless Setup for a Raspberry Pi Zero-W

No keyboard, mouse, or monitor required! In this tutorial, I’ll show you how to ssh to a Raspberry Pi Zero W without ever using a keyboard, mouse, or monitor on the device itself. We’ll prepare the device to connect to your wireless network (even with a password) when it’s turned on for the first time – this process is known as “headless setup”.

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How to Use Garmin's Workouts Feature on your GPS Running Watch

How to Use Garmin's Workouts Feature on your GPS Running Watch

I’ve been a runner for most of my life, running track and cross country in both high school and college. Many years ago now, I got my first GPS running watch and I came to love all the data it provides for my runs. Recently, I figured out how to use the “Workouts” feature on my Garmin fēnix watch, and I absolutely love it! I think more people should know about it, so I decided to write this blog.

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Why I Love Ubuntu as a Desktop OS

Why I Love Ubuntu as a Desktop OS

One of the top stories on Hacker News today was a blog post called macOS 10.15: Slow by Design. I loved reading it – I find it fascinating to see how a problem like that was discovered through some reverse engineering. But it also got me thinking about macOS vs Linux vs Windows and reminded me why I love using Linux. Many people I know think the Linux Desktop is buggy and hard to use. And sometimes it is. But it’s worth remembering that neither macOS nor Windows comes without its own set of problems. There are trade-offs between any operating system (and apparently, the OS slowing down some executables by making network requests is now one of those trade-offs 😂). At the end of the day, I just want my OS to get out of the way and not be broken so I can be productive, and it seems to me that in the last several years, Ubuntu is getting closer to Windows and macOS in terms of stability and ease-of-use. On top of this, Ubuntu has always been lightyears ahead of Windows and macOS in terms of data collection and privacy.

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My Home Office Setup

My Home Office Setup

I’ve been meaning to write a blog post about my home office setup for a while now – and with mandatory work from home restrictions for COVID-19 in most places around the world, this seemed like a great time to write it!

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How to Dual-Boot Ubuntu 20.04 (or 22.04) and Windows 10 with Encryption

How to Dual-Boot Ubuntu 20.04 (or 22.04) and Windows 10 with Encryption

When you run the Ubuntu installer, there’s an option to dual-boot Ubuntu with an existing Windows installation. There’s also an option to encrypt your Ubuntu installation, but only if you erase everything and install ubuntu. There’s no automatic way to install Ubuntu alongside Windows 10 with encryption. And while there are plenty of tutorials for dual-booting Ubuntu and Windows, many of them are outdated – often referencing an MBR partition table – and almost none of them seem to address encrypting your Ubuntu partition.

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